Hi my name is Matt, I am the vice president of BeTheChangeYYC. I have over 10 years’ experience in management, in the hospitality industry within Calgary. Amongst my list of training, I have training in addictions, mental health, naloxone administration, conflict resolution, and am trauma informed. It was back in 2015 I helped, along with president and CEO Chaz Smith, to kick start BeTheChangeYYC. Our early team was made of a few fellow activists from the Calgary community. As a grass roots group of likeminded individuals, we saw a great need in the community for outreach and supports for those experiencing homelessness and substance use. It was within this desire for change we grew BeTheChangeYYC to what it is today. When we started, back in 2015, we simply handed out and provided simple sustenance food items like a juice box, bologna sandwich, or a fresh pair of socks.
No matter circumstances
Over the years with support of the community we started receiving more donations that boosted our ability to provide more tangible items of food, clothing, and other resources. Helping those experiencing homelessness to access and navigate the programs available in our city, we saw greater change coming to those in our city. Along with tangible resources, there was a great need for harm reduction supplies like Safe kits/Naloxone/condoms etc. I believe Harm reduction saves lives. We began distributing those lifesaving supplies; In that advocating for substance abuse supports, like detox, for those that needed them along with housing first initiatives in the community. No matter your circumstance you deserve a safe place to call home.
To journey out of homelessness
One of my favorite outreach stories is meeting a man named Chris. We met Chris toward the end of one of our Wednesday outreaches, running low on supplies we provided to him the items we had left and made a plan to meet up with him the upcoming Wednesdays to provide more resources. For the following weeks and months we would see Chris almost every Wednesday on outreach; providing supplies and tangibles to help him through the week until we would meet again. Over time we bonded more with Chris. Being further able to foster relationship, encourage, and stand along beside him in his journey. With support of the resource referrals offered, Chris was able to journey out of homelessness finding work, and stable housing. It brings me great joy to think of Chris and all he has accomplished. This is just one example of the cycle of homelessness coming to an end.
Complete eradication of homelessness
One of the best parts of team BeTheChangeYYC is witnessing the great work our volunteers do in their community each day during outreach, moreover seeing that passion overflow into their own neighborhoods and communities. My hope and dream for the future would be to see a complete eradication of homelessness in Calgary, like what was done in Medicine Hat. I believe with the many volunteers, advocates, and community members in this city; Calgary will one day see that come to pass.